Region 9 Director: James Frank
Supervising Naturalist | East Bay Regional Park District | (510) 544-2527
The greatest compliment James ever got as a young adult was “you’re such an Islander.” His love of the natural and cultural heritage of his suburban New York birthplace led him to a career based on inspiring others to appreciate the natural wonders around them. James earned his Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Maryland while working as an aquarist and lab technician. He taught high school and college science, and ran a nature center on the Chesapeake Bay.
Now a Supervising Naturalist with East Bay Regional Park District, James’ outreach programs reach tens of thousands yearly in urban communities. James and Jessica (his nonprofit manager, power-hitting wife) live with their two toddlers in a park. James likes fishing, flea market bargain hunting in Spanish, and being “baby-piled” by his boys. He is a volunteer Big Brother, and a contributor to The Fish Nerds Podcast..
Region 9 Deputy Director: Phil Sexton, CIG, CIT
Interpretive Coordinator | California State Parks | (530) 305-2241
Phil grew up in Bakersfield, surrounded by acres of oilfields and empty spaces, exploring enough places to regularly scrape his knees and elbows. One of his first memories involves looking for chipmunks after seeing a campfire program in Yosemite when he was four years old. His love of storytelling and communicating with others led to an early career path in commercial broadcasting and film, but his love of the outdoors proved stronger and he began a 30+ year career with the US Forest Service, working on three National Forests and a National Park during this part of his life. Along the way, he graduated from HSU and joined the Western Interpreter’s Association, a predecessor of NAI.
In 2009, he came to California State Parks as an Interpretive Coordinator, working in parks with a cultural history focus, where he trains volunteers and paid staff, works on large and small scale plans, oversees exhibits at the CA State Railroad Museum, and explores technology for interpretation. He also consults for films and TV shows that explore the history that he works with.
Phil is a regular fixture at NAI National and Region 9 Workshops, facilitating technology for presenters and occasionally presenting himself. He’s spoken before historic and cultural groups in California, Oklahoma, and Virginia and has had photos and/or articles published in Sunset, Via, On Track and Legacy magazines, and has contributed content to several trail guides, history books and maps.
Phil and Norma Sexton live on a one-acre farm in Auburn that is appropriately named “Wise Acres.”
Region 9 Treasurer: Laura Drath
Fish and Wildlife Interpreter II | CA Department of Fish and Wildlife | (916) 358-2884
As an Interpreter for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Laura oversees education, outreach and public services at Nimbus Hatchery, east of Sacramento. Prior to this she taught public school for several years and worked in interpretation for California State Parks, the Sacramento Zoo, and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Laura is alumni of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation study circle program and is the Capital/Foothills Region coordinator for Project WILD. In her off time she hikes, reads, bakes, and enjoys life along the American River with her husband and son.
Region 9 Secretary: Lindsey Knea
Lindsey Knea is stepping in as the interim Secretary. Lindsey studied Environmental Education and Interpretation at Humboldt State University and has worked as a Park Interpretive Specialist at California State Park Headquarters and at Fort Ross State Historic Park doing the Environmental Living Program. She has enjoyed many summers at Westminster Woods and CYO Camp in Occidental and has worked as a Program Naturalist, Site Director, Village Lead and Summer Camp Coordinator at CYO. Currently Lindsey enjoys teaching Cycling, Zumba, Strong by Zumba, and Aqua Aerobics at the YMCA and working part time doing special events at Sienna Ranch in Lafayette, California in addition to her most important job, being a Stay-at-Home-Mom. She has also participated in Region 9 conference planning in the past and this year (2017) is sharing the co-chair position on the planning committee.